The next few weeks are one of the most anticipated times of the calendar year. While this period is marked with numerous holidays and company parties celebrating friends, family, and goodwill throughout the next year, many people find it difficult to fully enjoy the holiday period without adding a few extra pounds and end up making resolutions that are hard to keep. The main keys to staying healthy during this time of year are the same as any other time of year: Proper diet and frequent exercise. With the following useful tips, you can minimize the excess pounds while still being able to enjoy your favorite holiday feast.
-When the season changes to shorter days and colder weather, we often look to our food for nourishment and comfort. Remember to eat your food slowly (appreciating the taste and texture), use moderation, and limit alcohol and sweet beverages. It takes approximately 20 minutes for your brain to receive the message that your stomach is full, so the faster you eat, the more calories you cram in before realizing you’re full. When building your plate, consider using a smaller plate or even a saucer since you can always go back for more if you’re still hungry.
-The holidays are a time of celebration, so it is ok to enjoy a nice cocktail or glass of wine, but don’t overdo it. By sticking to 1-2 drinks and filling the rest of the night with unsweetened tea or water, you’ll dramatically reduce caloric intake since a glass of wine or beer will cost around 100-200 calories.
–When choosing your sides, stick with options that contain more fiber and the least amount of added fat or sodium. When in doubt, pick whichever looks most like its original, unprocessed form with an optimal serving size of 1/3 to ½ cup. For reference, one full cup is approximately the same size as a baseball.
-By selecting whole vegetables instead of fatty casseroles that contain vegetables (e.g. one small serving of green bean casserole has over 90 calories, primarily from fat), not only do you cut calories, but you also improve the nutritional content of those foods. Also try to make sure you have a variety of colors on your plate since the colors of a fruit or vegetable typically corresponds with different nutrients. For example mashed sweet potatoes not only look better and don’t require gravy, but they are also packed with fiber, vitamin A, and antioxidants (with less calories to boot!).
–The recommended serving for any type of meat is 3-4 ounces, or roughly the size of a pack of playing cards. The healthiest holiday meat option is skin-less white-meat turkey since it is lower in fat, cholesterol, and sodium. A single serving of ham is loaded with almost half of the Recommended Daily Allowance of sodium. If you must put a sauce on your turkey, use home-made cranberry sauce to keep sugars low and avoid the needless fat and sodium found in gravy.
-Arguably the most anticipated part of holiday feasts, dessert is also one of the easiest places to make poor decisions. When evaluating typical holiday desserts, pumpkin and apple are the best choices with 225 and 300 calories per slice, respectively. Also, avoid a la mode, and limit yourself to a single, modestly sliced piece (2-3 inches wide at most). Of course the best choice for something sweet post meal would be a serving of fresh fruit, but who can resist grandma’s apple pie!
Every year we make resolutions but many of us are unable to keep them. This year, stay on track through the holidays by making wise eating choices and save yourself a resolution!
Enjoy the holidays and thanks for reading!
Contributors: Kim Farmer and Terry Hackney of Mile High Fitness. Mile High Fitness offers in-home personal training and corporate fitness solutions. Visit www.milehighfitness.com or email email@example.com